While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter‘s‘ “Awards Chatter” podcast, U2 frontman Bono reveals he hates the band’s name, his own singing voice and most of the songs the group has released.
Despite the band’s global renown, the 61-year-old singer says he switches off the radio when he hears a U2 song because he doesn’t like the sound of his own voice.
“I only became a singer recently, maybe it hasn’t happened yet for some people’s ears and I understand that,” he says.
During the podcast chat with the Edge for the movie “Sing 2”, which features Bono in his voice-acting debut and the new U2 track “Your Song Saved My Life”, the singer says he isn’t a fan of the band’s name, more than four decades after they formed.
While U2’s other members — Adam Clayton, The Edge and Larry Mullen Jr. — have come to like it, Bono says, “I still don’t. I really don’t. But I was late into some kind of dyslexia.”
“I didn’t realize that the Beatles was a bad pun either. In our head it was like the spy plane, U-boat, it was futuristic — as it turned out to imply this kind of acquiescence, no I don’t like that name. I still don’t really like the name,” he admits. “Paul McGuinness, our first manager, did say, ‘Look, it’s a great name, it’s going to look good on a T-shirt, a letter and a number.’”
The name isn’t the only thing Bono dislikes. He’s also not a fan of his own vocal performances.
“The one that I can listen to the most is ‘Miss Sarajevo’ with Luciano Pavarotti. Genuine, most of the other ones make me cringe a little bit,” he says. “Although ‘Vertigo’ probably is the one I’m proudest of. It’s the way it connects with the crowd.”
While Bono may not like his “strained” voice, he says “the band sound incredible” in their songs.
“I’ve been in the car when one of our songs has come on the radio and I’ve been the colour of, as we say in Dublin, scarlet. I’m just so embarrassed,” he adds.
The singer shares a story about what the late Robert Palmer told Clayton regarding Bono’s vocals in the 1980s: “‘God, would you ever tell your singer to just take down the keys a little bit, he’d do himself a favour and he’d do us all a favour who have to listen to him.'”
But Bono says, “I was thinking out of my body. I wasn’t thinking about singing. I didn’t really think about changing keys. Did we ever change a key?”
He continues: “I do think U2 pushes out the boat on embarrassment quite a lot and maybe that’s the place to be as an artist, you know, right at the edge of your level of embarrassment. And the lyrics as well, I feel that on Boy and other albums it was sketched out very unique and original material, but I don’t think I filled in the details, and I look back and I go, ‘God.’”